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Controversy as Charlie Hebdo Honored at PEN Awards

Charlie Habdo on newsstand
Charlie Hebdo cover

Last night the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo were honored for their courage at the PEN American Center, despite protests. Some writers still mistakenly think these cartoonists, including the ones murdered in their office by masked gunmen in January, promote racism and religious hatred.

Anyone who took even five minutes to read about the lifelong work and beliefs of these cartoonists would learn they are actively anti-racist. Offensive? Sure. But they attack ideas and beliefs, not people (unlike the hate group in Texas which actively promotes hatred of actual people based on their race and religion).

Several writers have admirably responded to the protests, including Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker (PEN has every Right to Honor Charlie Hebdo, Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic (The Dangerous Myths about Charlie Hebdo), who includes links to many more excellent rebuttals, a saucy article by James Kirchick in The Walrus (Weaker than the Sword), and an interview with one of Charlie Hebdo’s editors Jean-Baptist Thoret on NPR’s All Things Considered. Check out France 24’s video coverage of the awards ceremony (including uncensored comments by Salman Rushdie).

Also read: Understanding Charlie Hebdo and French Secularism

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  • Congratulations to the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo – please continue your excellent work and (eventually) the world will be a better place!